Rev. Al Sharpton's Weekly Blog

Health Care Reform Must Remain

Jan 06, 2011

It’s the top of the year and this week the newly elected Republican-led Congress takes the helm in the nation’s capital.  After two years of consistently filibustering, stalling and flat out obstructing much of the President’s legislation aimed at progressing this nation forward, many of these Republican leaders are poised to do it all over again.  Building on their reputation as the ‘Party of No’ without any concrete alternatives for resolving many of our major dilemmas today, the GOP is wasting no time attempting to reverse much of what we have gained.  Their first order of business:  repealing health care reform.  Our first order of business:  ensuring that they do not succeed.

In 2010, for the first time, American parents all across the country were able to keep their children on their health insurance plans till the age of 26.  At a time when more and more young folks are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain work – even with a college degree – the ability to remain on their parents’ health insurance has served as a literal life-savor.  In accordance with President Obama’s reform package, children with pre-existing conditions could no longer be denied coverage as well.  That means that a parent working several jobs whose child is suffering from a grave illness no longer had to worry whether or not this daughter or son would sustain further agony navigating through the treacherous waters of the health industry.  Gone were the painstaking days of receiving denial letters based on arbitrary justifications for refusing to cover sick children.  During such difficult circumstances, health care reform at least afforded these parents a moment to breathe easy.

By 2014, all Americans were set to feel the effects of the overhaul of our broken health care system.  By this time, everyone – adults included – could no longer be dropped from insurance companies for pre-existing conditions.  Seniors would be saved from the Medicare Part D Donut Hole, and other devastating loopholes in the system would have been eliminated.  The uninsured and underinsured in this nation finally had an opportunity to obtain affordable coverage that would allow them to live longer, more fruitful lives thanks to receiving preventive care and other measures.  For the first time in decades since the push for universal health care reform began, Americans were on a path to progressive change thanks to the dedication of our Commander-in-Chief and Democratic leaders.

As this new 112th Congress enters this week, the GOP has already announced their ‘repeal bill’ equipped with an addendum that calls for a ‘Republican health plan’.  We have yet to see this alleged plan.  Instead, all we have witnessed is a continuation of obstructionism and a regression to ideas that only benefit insurance companies and the very wealthy.  Meanwhile, the people – who only recently gained a semblance of relief – will see these positive mechanisms stripped away if GOP leaders have their way.  We cannot and will not allow this to happen.

African Americans and Latinos should be especially concerned by this talk, for any repeal of health reform impacts us the most.  According to a recent report by the Commonwealth Fund, Blacks and Latinos make up nearly half of all Americans that are currently living without access to affordable health care.  If the Republican-led Congress has its way, and the Senate capitulates, all of President Obama’s efforts would have been in vain.  And all of our futures, and our children’s futures will be held in the balance.  Once our collective health deteriorates, so does the nucleus of our country.

We must hold these leaders accountable.   The time for silence is long over.